Happy Birthday NPS

Tomorrow (August 25th) the National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of existence. How exciting is that?! National Parks have been named one of “America’s Best Ideas.” The Ken Burns six-part documentary on the parks explains this: “THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background – rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.” (source) Having been to national parks, historic sites, memorials, lake shores, and more…I agree with this quote whole-heartedly.

Mount Rushmore

I stepped foot into my first national park just over 6 years ago. Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Amazement. Breathtaking. Wanting to photograph every view just in case I’d forget it someday. Just pausing to soak it all in. This adventure into Badlands NP would start a love affair with: the National Park Service, travel, hiking, state parks, nature, and more. I’ve visited a number of NPS sites over the past 6 years, but it’s just a drop in the bucket of what’s possible. President Obama just designated the 413th NPS site: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

Apostle Islands

In honor of the centennial of the National Park Service, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos from my visits to different sites. To date I have visited:

There are so many more I want to visit. I have a pretty strong feeling that I’ll gladly spend the rest of my life chipping away at this “to-visit” list.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - Chimney Rock Mtn Overlook


Ute Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park

Shenandoah NP, VA


Voyageurs NP

Going on an Adventure

Happy Summer!! Tomorrow I’m celebrating a pretty big milestone…5 years of working at UMD. Woo! I still love the work, the people, and the students. I can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m also excitedly off from work for the next couple weeks. Yay Vacation! I’m attending ACPA’s Student Affairs Assessment Institute in Baltimore and then hitting the road for a couple day road trip through Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. So excited! I’ve been prepping and mapping out my route. Can’t wait to go on my adventure! For prep materials I’m using a mixture of State Visitor guides, Google, Pinterest, and two books by Moon Travel Guides. Per usual, too many fun things to do and not enough time.

Adventure Vacation

Source: the #adventure digital word art is from Ali Edwards and the Pinterest Passport freebies she has available right now to help celebrate the start of summer.

The Bulldog Life

Hello fine friends! Sorry I haven’t been around lately. The good news is I made it through the holidays and the spring recruiting season in fine fashion. Every spring, I coordinate my office’s appearance at Admissions events called Admitted Students Days. These are days when students who have applied and been admitted to UMD can visit the campus and solidify the choice to attend UMD. Anyway, I just wanted to share the picture I took today for a social media post. It’s one of my favorites I’ve done for work in a long time.


Walking by the Lake

This weekend we had some great unseasonably warm weather. High 30s! Trust me, in northern Minnesota, that is warm for this time of year. Early Saturday morning I decided to venture down to the lake shore with camera in hand. Specifically, I went to Canal Park by the Aerial Lift Bridge and our lighthouse. There was some beautiful light as it was shortly after sunrise (which, right now, is ridiculously late). During this time of year, the sun is rising as I’m going to work and setting when I’m leaving work…and my office has no windows. I’m starved for natural light & fresh air. Venturing out in the early morning was just the booster I needed.

The walkway out to the lighthouse is closed for the season, so I got a fun shot of the lighthouse through the gate. The gate itself is green…so I changed the photo to black and white. Much better. Below are a few of my favorite photos from the morning. Lighthouses


Version 2

Snow Falling

Just another quick photo for you today. The snow was falling last night in that perfect quiet kind of way. I just had to walk outside for a moment to experience and capture it. I snapped a handful of shots and the one below is my favorite. Not technically perfect, and that doesn’t really bother me.

Snow Falling

Colorado Adventure: The Highlights

This summer I was able to spend 9 great days in Colorado for vacation. I originally thought Summer 2015 would happen without a major trip outside MN/WI. Then Kendra mentioned she was traveling to Denver for a conference and wondered if I wanted to tag along. Umm, yes! With only about a month to figure out the details, we planned a 9 day trip that encompassed some of the great activities Colorado has to offer. For today, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from our trip. I amazingly was able to pick 5 photos from the 500+ I took. I hope to also share a few more posts to highlight each of our different adventures.

While Kendra conferenced for the first half of the trip, I enjoyed decompressing from the busy school year. September to May are always so hectic. That’s why I like to take a lengthy vacation during the summer…just to relax a little and not think about work for awhile. I mostly vegged, read in Sense & Sensibility, and ate good food at the restaurants at our resort. My friend Ashley, from grad school, had just moved to Colorado and she came into Denver to hangout one of the days. We wandered around downtown Denver in the heat (so hot…I missed my natural air conditioner of Lake Superior) and saw the state capitol area.

CO Capitol

Once Kendra was done with her conference, we got to go play in the mountains for a couple days. First stop, Red Rocks! We were told by several people that any future concerts we go to will pale in comparison to one we would see at Red Rocks. The acoustics were amazing! We saw the group Wilco and only got rained on a little bit. Seeing the Denver lights in the background was also beautiful.

Red Rocks

After the concert we traveled north to Estes Park for the next leg of our trip: Rocky Mountain National Park. Truly playing in the mountains. RMNP was my 9th National Park and was a splendid day and a half.

Ute Trail RMNP

Highlights from RMNP:

  • Hiked on 4 different trails (and also small spurs at various areas)
  • Visited the Alpine Visitor Center which is the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park Services system
  • Enjoyed wildflower season
  • Hiked on the Continental Divide
  • Had our breath taken away by the beauty of the alpine region…and actually because hiking at 12,000ft is no joke.


After RMNP, we ventured back into Denver for 1.5 days of beer tasting. On our way back into Denver we stopped at New Belgium Brewing (a favorite) in Fort Collins, Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, and Boulder Beer Co in Boulder. Our last full day in Denver involved a lot of walking, 6 breweries, and 1 cidery. We visited Denver Beer Co (a favorite), Wynkoop Brewing Co, Denver ChopHouse & Brewery, Blue Moon at the Sandlot (at the CO Rockies stadium & also a favorite), Great Divide Brewing Co, Epic Brewing, and Stem Ciders (a favorite). I know that sounds like a lot. We were strategic with our tasting and we shared tasters of 3-4 kinds at each place.

Denver Bridge

Such a fun place. I can’t wait to go back some day. And, just a side note, all the photos featured were taken with my phone.